Bre Hayden was playing a Nintendo Wii several years ago, and had a thought. She was so good at Wii tennis on the video game, that maybe she should give it a shot in real life.
Turns out, she's even better at the real thing. Hayden, the Doherty No. 1 singles player, showed those skills when she won the Far East Invite title at Vista Peak last week.
"Bre played the most amazing tennis at that tournament that I've ever seen her play," Doherty coach Cheri Rogers said. "She was patient and waited for good shots, and I hope that's a confidence booster for her."
Hayden, a senior, didn't enter the real world of tennis until her freshman year of high school. She played doubles the first two years, and then before her junior year made the big leap to singles play, as the No. 1 player on the team.
"After Kylie (Simons, Doherty's No. 1 in 2015) left, I knew I had to be the one to step up," Hayden said. "It was quite an awakening for me, because I didn't realize the skill level that a lot of these girls had. It was a little rough making the transition from only playing two years of doubles to making the jump to playing singles, especially at the No. 1 spot."
Hayden had plenty of help in her growth. In addition to her coaches and taking tennis lessons for the past three years, her grandfather, Bob Hayden, has been the biggest reason why she's become a solid player.
"It took lots and lots of hours of practice, and playing with my grandpa as well," Bre said. "He taught me so much about tennis - I used to never be able to beat him, but now I can. He would watch videos and then we would go out and play and he'd teach me, and he got me to where I am today."
Where she is today is leading a talented group of Spartans by example. Not only did Hayden win the No. 1 singles title at the Far East Invite, Doherty also took the team title with a total of 21 points, edging Cherokee Trail and Steamboat Springs.
Rogers, who has been the coach at Doherty for 22 years, says she's never coached someone who started playing tennis at the beginning of high school who has risen so rapidly.
"I've never seen that, ever," Rogers said. "Bre had a good season last year, even though she may not say it was. She believes she should be able to beat everybody, even though she doesn't have the same experience they have.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Bre, and I believe she can be as good as she wants to be. She's wonderful with her teammates, and is very supportive of everyone. She was voted one of our two team captains."
Hayden, who also excels in school with one of the top GPAs in her class of roughly 500 students, has relished the role of team leader.
"It's great being a part of a team win and contributing to it, and I'm really optimistic about our players' potential," she said. "We have a lot of young people on our team who I can see going far in their tennis careers."